Goodbye 2017, Goodbye Hollywood?

2017 will go down in history as being one of the most controversial and eye-opening years, especially for Hollywood following the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Norhan Zouak (’21) takes a closer look at the domino effect and sexual misconduct allegations.

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Norhan Zouak, Staff Writer

As expected, Hollywood in 2017 saw blockbuster smashes, critically-acclaimed TV series, star-studded award nominations—the list goes on. But unlike previous years, 2017 witnessed an unprecedented slew of sexual harassment and assault allegations that brought down the biggest names in entertainment, from mega-producer Harvey Weinstein to leading man Kevin Spacey. These allegations were so ubiquitous that they instantly became an integral part of the daily news cycle, transforming the luxurious and posh perception of Hollywood into one tarnished by misogyny and sexual depravity. But is this anything new?

Although it was just this year that people actually started taking initiative, everyone knew about it for years. Actresses’ careers were determined by the “casting couch”—whether or not they would perform sexual favors to men in higher positions. The term “casting couch” became a part of all the jokes made about sexual harassment in Hollywood for decades. Directors and producers sometimes took advantage of young actresses, casting the ones who did what was asked of them.

It has shown boys that this type of behavior is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated”

— Mara Farrell ('21)

Sexual harassment and the oppression of women in Hollywood has existed since the start. While the sexual assault aspect is still very much a thing, women have gained more rights and a louder voice in Hollywood. Slowly, society is improving its behavior towards women. “I think [Hollywood] has improved in some sense where so many years ago, women acting wasn’t even a thing, so in that sense, it’s better,” said Evan Hecht (‘19). “On the other hand, many people still don’t view women at the same level of a male actor, so I think in some sense it’s better, but in the other sense, it’s not.” Overall, the treatment and portrayal of women in Hollywood is very negative, but all these allegations are a step in the right direction regarding women’s representation everywhere. Mara Farrell (‘21) weighed in, saying, “I think that the sexual harassment claims and the continuous discussions now opening up about the issue will eliminate sexual harassment, specifically in the workplace. It has shown boys that this type of behavior is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated, and also inspired a lot of victims to open up about their stories, which will hopefully help eliminate the stigma and fear that accompanies reporting sexual harassment.”

In September, the first claim of sexual assault was against Harvey Weinstein. All of a sudden, allegations were spreading like wildfire. Big-time director Oliver Stone, Star Trek legend George Takei, Batman portrayer Ben Affleck, morning host Matt Lauer, comedian Louis CK, and fashion photographer Terry Richardson all came under fire. Since September, over ninety men have been accused. The scandal has affected not only Hollywood but also the political world. Congressmen and Senators have already stepped down due to allegations against them. So, what does this mean for the future of Hollywood? Will it stay in this down spiral until it eventually crashes? What will happen to our own president, who already has fourteen claims against him? Only time will tell.